‘Two Noble Relatives’ Review: Celine’s Shakespeare with a Hint


The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series didn’t rely on someone pleasing a familiar crowd from a catalog of best hits for its return to live performance. Instead, he chose a deep cut: “Two Noble Relatives.” This play was not even a stand-alone effort for Shakespeare, who shared the same reputation as John Fletcher, like a Jacobin version of James Patterson sharing his authorship with lesser-known collaborators in thrillers. A third culprit in this new version may also be director Hamilton Clancy, as the original is unlikely to contain references to Celine Dion and the ballad “I Will Always Love You”. (We double-check with the Folger Shakespeare Library.)

The popcorn aspect isn’t accidental either: While this isn’t a top-notch drama, there’s definitely entertainment potential in the slap, with bleak notes bordering on the inconsistent adventures of two cousins ​​falling for the same woman. A funny sub-event infused with seemingly random intervals and because why not? It’s a tragicomedy so you need a little bit of everything, plus games bigger than that have been successful despite the devil may care logic.

Unfortunately, Clancy’s staging doesn’t tap into this potential, and on a recent evening at Bryant Park, the production mostly relied on a certain serious enthusiasm. (The show is moving into the parking lot of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Education Center on the Lower East Side next week.)

In this iteration, cousins ​​are sockless, chino-wearing Palamon (Bradford Frost) and the slightly more thoughtful Arcite (John Caliendo, in a starring role, it’s a fun fact, Port of David 2003 Public Theater production). In fact, they feel more like Delta Tau Chi mismatched siblings going to brewski until they both fall in love with Emilia (Liz Livingston). Remember, all it took was to see him through the window of the cell they arrived at after battling the force, namely Theseus (Lukas Raphael).

This shared passion for a beautiful lady, Theseus’ sister-in-law, turns the young men into rivals, then they become friends again, and then a fight breaks out that doesn’t end well for one of them. As for Emilia, it doesn’t matter which of her cousins ​​she prefers because the deceased gift it to the survivor.

Meanwhile, the guard’s daughter might not be worthy of a character name, but she still gets a lot of juicy funny scenes after she becomes obsessed with Palamon – after just one glance anyway. That’s an excuse for actress Jane Bradley to gleefully chew on the view, but we’re on the upper deck of the park behind the New York Public Library and there aren’t any. To mark the moment when the guard’s daughter completely loses the plot (like most of us in the audience) Bradley comes out with a smudged lipstick like a long lost relative of the Joker. A production dealing with subtlety might have resonated sharply from Malvolio’s descent into madness, such as when he garnered our sympathy after his humiliation in “Twelfth Night.”

Apparently, Clancy’s concept was some kind of “modern espionage story” that wasn’t proven when we saw it. Then again, so many modern movies are so forced and incomprehensible that perhaps the idea is perfectly executed.

Two Noble Relatives
28-30 July in Clemente, Manhattan; shakespeareintheparkinglot.com. Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes.


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